World Bank puts economic cost of Turkey quakes at $34bn

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Analysts at the World Bank have estimated that the recent devastating earthquakes that occurred in Turkey will result in some $34 billion of economic costs, based on direct physical damages.

At this level, losses from the February quakes would be equivalent to around 4% of Turkey’s total GDP.

But the World Bank acknowledges that costs will ultimately go well beyond this level due to further losses associated with economic disruptions and with recovery and reconstruction efforts, which it warns could be potentially twice as large as its headline figure.

The damage cost itself could also creep higher as continued aftershocks add to this estimate over time, it added.

The World Bank’s estimate came as part of a new report which has been prepared to help inform the early response of the World Bank Group and its partners and to support government planning for recovery and reconstruction in Turkey.

The February 6th earthquakes of 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude, followed by more than 7,500 aftershocks and two additional earthquakes, were the largest of their kind to hit Turkey in more than 80 years.

Direct damages to residential buildings account for 53%, or $18 billion of the total damage, the World Bank’s report suggests, with 28% of damage, or $9.7 billion, in non-residential buildings and 19%, or $6.4 billion, related to infrastructure.

The damage estimates in the report do not include the broader economic impacts and losses for the Turkish economy, or the cost of recovery and reconstruction which could be significantly more than the direct damages and requires a more in-depth assessment.

“Our hearts go out to the people of Türkiye and Syria for the great loss and suffering from this disaster,” said Anna Bjerde, World Bank Group Vice President for Europe and Central Asia.

“It is heartening to see the mobilization of the global community to help in the massive relief and rescue effort. The World Bank has immediately mobilized its technical expertise and financing to support Türkiye’s recovery efforts.”

The World Bank’s estimate for economic losses is substantially higher than the figure already put forward by catastrophe modeller RMS, which pegged overall losses from the quake’s in excess of $25 billion, with insured losses projected to exceed $5 billion.

CoreLogic also released an insured loss estimate of $5 billion for the quakes, while KCC came in lower at $2.4 billion on a potential economic loss of $20 billion.

“This disaster serves as a reminder of Türkiye’s high risk to earthquakes and of the need to enhance resilience in public and private infrastructure,” commented Humberto Lopez, World Bank Country Director for Turkey. “As a leader in disaster risk management, the World Bank is committed to accompany Türkiye in its efforts to a disaster-resilient economic recovery.”

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